Adams, John


Adams, John

biographical name


John Adams, oil painting by Gilbert Stuart, 1826; in the National Collection of Fine Arts, …—Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum (formerly National Museum of American Art), Washington, D.C.

(born Oct. 30, 1735, Braintree, Mass.—died July 4, 1826, Quincy, Mass., U.S.) U.S. politician, first vice president (1789–97) and second president (1797–1801) of the U.S. After graduating from Harvard College in 1755, he practiced law in Boston. In 1764 he married Abigail Smith (see Abigail Adams). Active in the American independence movement, he was elected to the Massachusetts legislature and served as a delegate to the Continental Congress (1774–78), where he was appointed to a committee with Thomas Jefferson and others to draft the Declaration of Independence. In 1776–78 he was appointed to many congressional committees, including one to create a navy and another to review foreign affairs. He served as a diplomat in France, the Netherlands, and England (1778–88). In the first U.S. presidential election, he received the second largest number of votes and became vice president under George Washington. Adams's term as president was marked by controversy over his signing of the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798 and by his alliance with the conservative Federalist Party. In 1800 he was defeated for reelection by Jefferson and retired to live a secluded life in Massachusetts. In 1812 he overcame his bitterness toward Jefferson, with whom he began an illuminating correspondence. Both men died on July 4, 1826, the Declaration's 50th anniversary. John Quincy Adams was his son.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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